October 24, 2015

CalculatorInside this issue:

  • Proposed Awards – an overview
  • 2016 Retained Award
  • 2016 Permanent Award

Proposed Awards – an overview

As promised in SITREP 33, this overview is provided in advance of next week’s AGM to help explain (albeit briefly) the background and effect of each proposed change. It should be read in conjunction with the full awards that can be found as links from the online version of SITREP 33. Members may also refer to the ongoing discussion on the Union’s online forum and, if you have any questions, submit them either there, or as email or Industrial Inquiry from the main website.

2016 Retained Award

The Union and Department agreed on minimal change for this Retained Award in order to allow the major reforms implemented with the last Award another year to bed down. Only Clauses 3 (Basic Wage), 5 (Intentions and Commitments), 6 (Rates of Pay and Allowances), 35 (Area, Incidence and Duration) and Part C (Monetary Rates) have been amended, and then for only minor drafting changes (eg, RTAS has been re-named RTAAS – Retained Telephone Alerting and Availability System). Like the Permanent Award, the proposed Retained Award will operate for 12 months, from February 2016 to February 2017, with all retainers, wage rates and allowances being increased by 2.5%.

2016 Permanent Award 

3. Basic Wage
4. Definitions
6. Rates of Pay and Allowances

 These changes were proposed by the Union and are of a drafting nature only, simplifying the clauses without changing their effect or operation. The revised Outduty and Standby definitions clarify that a Standby which exceeds a combined 4 hours (not 4 hours at each other station, but in total) becomes an Outduty, and that the starting and finishing times are of the rostered shift in question

7. Higher Duties

 These changes were jointly proposed and agreed in conjunction with those made at subclause 28.7, which:

(a) allow Senior Firefighters to apply for Country Station Officer positions if there are no Leading Firefighter applicants, or if none of those applicants are found to be suitable; and

(b) allow Station Officers to apply for Country Inspector or Operational Support Inspector positions if there are no Leading Station Officer applicants, or if none of those applicants are found to be suitable.

It is clearly provided that SFs and SOs cannot take up the position until they have successfully completed the LF or LSO Program and further, that they must then successfully complete the SO or Inspector Program within 12 months of taking up the position. If they do then they will be promoted to SO or Inspector, otherwise they will be returned to Sydney and to SF (not LF) or SO (not LSO) rank.

The purpose of these changes is to ensure that Country Officer, Senior Officer and Operational Support Inspector positions are not left vacant for lack of applicants – particularly before the full number  of LFs and LSOs are in place. It follows that the ability for SFs on the LF Program to apply for Country Officer vacancies (28.7.2.1.4), and for SOs on the LSO Program to apply for Country Senior Officer (28.7.3.1.3) and Operational Support Inspector vacancies (28.7.4.2 and 14.12) are temporary concessions for this award only and so will be removed in the 2017 award.

8. Hours of Work

These changes shown in green (insertions) and red (deletions) were mostly proposed by the Union and unless discussed directly below, are of a drafting nature only. The changes shown in blue type were endorsed by the membership at the February 2015 SGM, and so are not discussed again here.

Subclause 8.2.2.3 allows members at Special Roster stations (only) to apply to work alternative rosters that commence between 0600 and 1000 hrs and cease between 1400 and 1800 hrs. This would require the agreement of all permanent members at the station and, because it would affect the hours they would be required to cover, consultation with the station’s retained members as well.

Subclause 8.2.2.5 prevents the Department from allowing alternative rosters to reduce the total staffing required at that station. For example, without this provision the Department could find four members (SO and 3) who agreed to work Special Roster and then transfer everyone out of a current 24/7 station and those four into that station, effectively changing the 24/7 station a with minimum staffing of 16 (SO and 3 x four platoons) to a Special Roster station with a minimum staffing of only four. It does not mean that individual members cannot elect to work fewer hours, only that the hours covered by minimum staffing (and therefore jobs) aren’t able to be reduced.

Subclause 8.2.4.3 was a Department proposal that was agreed to because it was consistent with the other, already-agreed doubling provisions of subclause 8.2.4, doubling the number of hours before a Standby becomes an Outduty from 4 to 8 – but only if both members were rostered to work a 24 hour shift. If you are working 24 hrs but perform a Standby for someone working the 10/14, then the limit is still 4 hours.

Subclause 8.2.4a started as a Department proposal to confirm that the Relieving Allowance could never be paid more that twice during a 24 hours shift, and ended up being a joint proposal that confirms that the doubling is both a maximum and a minimum in all cases including, for example, counting a member who is working a 24 hour roster and who performs an Outduty as having performed two Outduties – even if that Outduty ran from (say) 0900 to 1800 hours and the member then returned to their own station for the balance of that 24 hour shift.

The Part Time Roster at subclause 8.6a has been deleted. Not because members will no longer be able to work part time or work that roster, but because the alternative roster provisions available under subclause 8.2.3 made it redundant. If members want to work that Part Time Roster, or any other kind of part time roster, then they can continue or apply to do so under subclause 8.2.3.

9. Overtime

These changes were proposed by the Union and are of a drafting nature only to simplify the clause – with one important exception. A new subclause 9.3 provides that all time worked in excess of 24 hours is paid for at double time, so a member who is working a rostered 24 hour shift and who is on a late call or required to stay back will now be paid double time immediately rather than time and one half for the first two hours. This has been done to reinforce the need to replace members on 24 hour shifts asap.

12. Relieving Provisions

Their deletion from subclause 12.4.1.1 means that Inspectors, like all other non-relievers, can no longer be directed to work outside of their own Fire District. The advent of local LSOs has overcome the Department’s previous concern about inability to fill unexpected Inspector vacancies outside of the GSA.

Subclause 12.7.2 clarifies and separates the entitlement to kms for excess travel and kms for the transport of gear. It extinguishes no existing entitlements and extends payments to members who are not currently entitled to them.

Subclause 12.17.1 provides unlimited Outduties for LSOs, but only if they are acting up to Inspector, and is tied to the Department’s agreement that SOs will not be transferred upon their progression to LSO. This amendment, and side agreement, removes the need for LSOs to be transferred to stations where Inspectors are located, and for the SOs currently at those stations to be transferred out.

Subclauses 12.19 and 12.20 clarify the qualify the current award’s Clause 12 and Clause 26 mutual exclusion provisions, and extinguish no existing entitlements but do extend payments to members not currently entitled to and/or receiving them (ie, allowing Relievers to claim breakfast allowances).

12a. Interstate and International Deployments

These self-explanatory new and special provisions were drafted by the Union following in-principle agreement earlier this year (see SITREP 20/15) on the need for such a clause. The Clause is modelled largely on the existing Major Emergencies provisions at Clause 29 of the Retained Award, and will guarantee a minimum payment of 16 hours for each day and 112 hours for each 7 days deployment.

13. Progression and Promotion Provisions

These changes were proposed by the Union and unless discussed directly below, are of a drafting nature only. The changes to format or conduct of the various selection processes are detailed in the “notes” and new LF and LSO FAQs provided in the online version of SITREP 33.

The new subclause 13.3.3 reflects and gives effect to the recent agreement between the parties for the recognition of prior firefighter employment (see SITREP 29).

The removal of the “operational service” requirement at subclauses 13.10.2 and 13.16 reflects the conclusion of both the Union and the Department that it is difficult if not impossible to fairly and evenly apply it due to the uneven opportunity amongst OS staff to return to stations and the fact that many OS positions already have strong operational components (eg, trainers and BFO’s, etc). The parties agreed  that leaving the requirement would likely cause more disputes and problems than it would ever solve.

14. Operational Support Positions 

These changes were proposed by the Union and are essentially of a drafting nature only, clarifying that OS members directed to perform operational duties remain on their OS rate of pay whereas OS members who elect to do so revert to their substantive rank’s rate of pay.

17. Annual Leave

These changes were proposed by the Union and are mostly of are of a drafting nature, requiring that all Inspectors and below must be to assigned a leave group and setting out the means by which leave group changes are managed – including the obvious benefit to members of “zeroing” of any leave deficits.

The complex extra leave provisions for members stationed at Broken Hill and Moree that were subject to the provision of proof of travelling time have been replaced with a simple extra 22.75 hours per year of consolidated leave on top of the 16 hours pa granted to very other member at subclause 17.6 (the other 7.25 hours pa for everyone is provided at subclause 8.10).

Subclause 17.10 gives legal effect to the near decade old “trial” of flexible annual leave for Operational Support members, and will make no practical difference to the way OS members take annual leave except to provide the additional option of taking rostered annual leave which won’t require approval.

Similarly, subclause 17.11 puts annual leave swaps on a legal award footing, allowing members to swap annual leave, either in whole or part, up to three rostered leave periods in advance (thereby allowing members to plan major holidays over twelve months ahead). The reference to “sets of shifts” means just that (ie, four 10/14 shifts, or two 24 hour shifts), so members who were concerned with the recent leave group changes about swapping their four set leave period for a three set leave period will now be able to swap three of those four sets with the other member and still take the other set off themselves.

28. Transfers Outside of the GSA

Most of these changes were jointly proposed and agreed in conjunction with those made at Clause 7.

The removal of the current award’s “three strikes” provision at subclause 28.3.5 was proposed by the Department due to the often excessive time it takes management to contact members on lists to ask if they wanted the transfer they’d applied for, who invariably then ask for time to discuss and think about it before coming back a few days later to say no – in which case the process starts again. The Department claims that it can take a month or more before someone finally agrees to accept the transfer. The Union  agreed on the rationale that list members should want to go anyway and should not be surprised if they are offered a position. The revised subclause guarantees the release of anyone from their current position in order to accept a transfer list offer. This allowed for the deletion of subclause 28.7.3.

Subclause 28.6 is another Department proposal that removes the reference to BA/Hazmat sections in Wollongong and Newcastle and simplifies the process for filling vacancies in Newcastle Comms, which will be continue to be offered to members in MN1 first. If no MN1 member applies, or if none of the applicants are found to be suitable, the position will then be open to all members.

29. Transferred Employee’s Compensation

A Union amendment clarifying that transfers into the Metro area are not excluded from the clause.

44. Area, Incidence and Duration

The Award is for 12 months only, from February 2016 to February 2017. The Union had initially sought a two year award, but the volatility of the unresolved MFR question, the expected attempt by FRNSW to force health and fitness testing through in 2016 and our intention to pursue further improvements (eg the taking of LSL for less than 8 day blocks) all led the State Committee to recommend a one year award.

Part C – Monetary Rates

All rates are increased by 2.5%, save for Table 4 which is adjusted on 1 July each year in line with the rates advised by the ATO. The only other change is the new $171.95 per day “Deployment Allowance” in Table 3 as part of the new Clause 12a (Interstate and International Deployments) arrangements.

 

Jim Casey
State Secretary                                                                                                     Saturday 24 October 2015